New Delhi, India (BBN)- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s first full budget has received a thumbs down from Manmohan Singh, the country’s prime minister for 10 years till the Congress party lost power in May.
Speaking exclusively to NDTV on Saturday, Dr Singh said the budget had good intentions but no adequate roadmap.
“Thank you,” was Mr Jaitley’s short response to the critique.
Dr Singh, who is also an eminent economist, had said, “Mr Jaitley is a very lucky finance minister. He has inherited an economy which is in reasonably good shape…inflation is under control, not because of anything we have done, but because the international prices of petroleum and other commodities have gone down. I had hoped that he’d use this lucky phase to give a real big boost to stabilize the economy, strengthen the macroeconomic framework…With all the nitpicking, the net tax revenues will increase by only Rs. 15,000 crores. What is 15,000 crores in a budget which runs into Rs. 15-16 lakh crores?”
The former prime minister said Mr Jaitley could have done much more for fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stabilization. He also felt the agriculture sector has not received the attention it needed.
“Agriculture has done extremely well under the UPA but in the last one year there have been signs of stress and strain in the agriculture economy. The budget has nothing to deal with this situation. 70 per cent live in rural areas, their well-being has not received adequate attention,” Dr Singh said.
Though various funds were being established, he said, “It is one thing to pronounce intentions but another thing to convert them into a solid action programme on the ground. My worry about the budget is it has good intentions but does not have adequate roadmap to ensure that those intentions are converted to concrete tactical realities.”
As finance minister in the 1990s, Manmohan Singh was the architect of India’s economic reforms. His second term as prime minister, however, was mired by corruption allegations and a perception that the government failed to check the economic downslide.
BBN/SSR/AD-28Feb15-9:54 pm (BST)